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Sat June 27 2009 12:52:39

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

By: David Steiner

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The ecommerce conference season is just about over, and I thought it might be interesting to recap the conferences where people spent their time and money in lieu of attending the cancelled 2009 eBay Live. Observing where money is spent in a recession is always more revealing than in a thriving economy, since people tend to eliminate extraneous expenses and retain those that are most important.
 
There were a few conferences and gatherings of note, ChannelAdvisor Catalyst, PeSA/ECMTA, IMA, eBay DevCon, eBay Radio (fake eBay Live) and Internet Retailer (IRCE). One trend that can't be ignored is that eBay-centric conferences are struggling to draw a crowd.  Reports we received from attendees at the first 5 events, was that the audience was very light, not more than 2-300 people at any of the events. Some conferences "capped" their attendance at a number that was half of previous years.
 
A large percentage of attendees were vendors, scoping out the conferences for potential clients. We asked some vendors who attended these events, and each responded that they were "disappointed" with attendance. One vendor rep, when asked if they would be at IRCE in Boston, responded "No, it will be a ghost-town."  Guess what - 5,000 people showed up at the conference - attendees and vendors - just barely down from last year's attendance. 
 
Here are a few revealing comments from some vendors and attendees to various conferences we spoke with: 
  • People are not as interested in attending eBay-centric conferences, and seeing the same 200-300 faces every year. 
  • Vendors are not as willing to spend shrinking advertising budgets on small conferences, just to see the usual suspects. While it's important to have face-time with customers, they're at these conferences primarily to sign up new clients.
  • Most importantly, online retailers are branching out, trying to find ways to make THEIR brands stronger, and explore suitable sales channels other than eBay.
Attendance at eBay Live conferences has declined since it peaked in 2006 when nearly 15,000 people congregated. By 2008, eBay Live drew barely one-third the audience of 2006, while a broader ecommerce conference such as IRCE has held steady or gained traction in the same time-frame.

We make choices every year about which events to attend. AuctionBytes likely would have been at eBay's developer conference as well as IRCE if the two had not been scheduled at the same time. Given the choice, we felt it was more important to be at a conference that offered a broader scope of the ecommerce landscape.
 
So which conference did you spend your money with this year - or did you? Which conference was the "Do Not Miss" event? And why, or why not, of course.




Comments (59) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Pat

Sat Jun 27 13:53:32 2009

I wouldn't waste my money at any of these conferences. Why line the pockets of the people who are the problem? I can learn just as much in the eBay forums, here, PSU, Bonz forums...

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: ebay=penny stock

Sat Jun 27 14:11:09 2009

You mean to tell me Ebay is having conferences and no one goes.

Made my day. HAHAHAHAHA

What will the morons at ebay think up next???

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Gary Overton

Sat Jun 27 15:07:04 2009

I have been selling online full-time for over 9 years.
I have over 8000 feedback on Amazon & almost 25,000 on eBay so I have sold some product in those 9 years.
In the past I have attended a couple of Amazon Seller conferences, 1 eBay Live & 1 eBay in Person event. The Amazon Seller Conferences were informative but not very productive. The eBay events were a joke.(They remind me of high school pep rallies)
This year I attended the PeSA/ECMTA event in Atlanta because it was relatively close & I could stay with friends that live close. I was not expecting much.
I was totally blown away. It was a very professional event with knowledgeable and entertaining presenters. I found most of the vendors there also better informed than the vendors I have talked to at eBay events.
I took a ton of notes which I NEVER do.
I was exhausted at the end of the second day because of all the info I had absorbed.
I plan on attending all future PeSA/ECMTA conferences if at all possible.
Many thanks to John Lawson for promoting this event so relentlessly & to Brandon & the others responsible for keeping everything going so smoothly

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: DSR Report (eBay Star Developer Runner-up)

Sat Jun 27 15:17:54 2009

I didn't attend Devcon even though I was one of the 10 groups honored there.  Money was the reason.  Why spend $1000+ to see my photo and hear my name when that same amount of money keeps me alive another two weeks?

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Patricia

Sat Jun 27 15:47:21 2009

Ebay is holding conferences and no one goes....Ebay is rolling out new policies and demanding they be followed and no one really cares.  What's happening?  Ebay is dying, that's what's happening.  People are busy taking care of their OWN business while Ebay just keeps posturing and foolishly boasting that they are the only game in town LOL  It takes time, but the turnaround is happening...that is the turnaround away from Ebay and onto other venues!

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Sun

Sat Jun 27 15:58:34 2009

We have been saying for years to diversify. Now that it is only too easy to do that with web services like zoovy, channeladvisor, infopia, etc eBay will continue to lose customers unless they actually listen to eBay members and provide greater discounts to all sellers, not just buy.com

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Joe Blough

Sat Jun 27 16:24:51 2009

Not only did they jump the shark, but they landed on the goose and killed all the golden eggs.

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: 75k+ Feedback Seller

Sat Jun 27 16:43:37 2009

I've attended most of those conferences at one time or another, and it's been a mixed bag. I came away with a lot of business cards, got lots of calls from services afterwards trying to recruit me, or pull me away from the services I was using. Some of the information in the sessions was useful, but what I left with was the impressions that it's more of an "old boys" network (yep, that's right, I'm female). I haven't been impressed with the leadership of either of the seller organizations, who spend more time sniping at other sellers who compete with their listings than they do running their conferences. Of course, they surround themselves with a bunch of "Yes" men and ultimately feel comfortable within the little echo chamber that they've set up.

2007 was the last time I went to a conference, and I made up my mind then that my money was better spent promoting my own sales, rather than hobnobbing with eBay reps and hangers-on at these meetings. I may look next year at Internet Retailer, and possibly some of the SEO conferences, but I'm done with the rest of them.

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Beth

Sat Jun 27 17:16:21 2009

In fairness,  what you so snottily called ebay live fake - was actually NOT an ebay event but put on by eBay Radio for the 6th anniversary of the ebay radio show. Ebay radio is NOT owned by eBay.  Truth in journalism - newsprint or web-based

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Sat Jun 27 17:29:12 2009

Hi Beth,

No snottiness intended. That was what several of the attendees and at least one of the presenters was calling the event.

David Steiner

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless

Sat Jun 27 18:53:25 2009

There was an eBay ''Town Hall'' at the Las Vegas event just like at past ''eBay Live'' events.  I don't think that a live eBay ''Town Hall'' is a regular component of any ''Ebay Radio'' birthday party but I'm not sure.

The Las Vegas ''Ebay Radio'' ''Town Hall'' event was notable for yet another re-definition of the English language by Brian ''a neutral is a negative because it isn't a positive'' Burke.  

A seller for more than a decade with thousands of positive feedbacks asked Mr. Burke why she was rated ''poor'' in policy compliance because she had been tripped up by one of eBay's many confusing, ever changing and randomly enforced policy rules.  Mr Burke tried to calm the seller by saying, ''Poor doesn't mean poor.''

Burke is another eBay communications giant cut from the same cloth as Jose Mallabo.

Burke needs to get linked in.  ''Neutral'' means ''neutral'' and ''poor'' means ''poor''. Sellers can be punished for ''poor'' policy compliance.  A ''4'' Detailed Seller Rating, represented as ''good'' to buyers in the Burke designed DSR system, can not somehow transform into a ''bad'' rating once given by a buyer to a seller.  

Ebay sellers with a ''4'' average DSR can be suspended from selling as a result of Burke's DSR system's double meanings.  The final Burke outrage - in eBay's notice of suspension email, sellers are told to raise his/her DSR scores in order to be able to end the suspension yet eBay blocks sellers from selling, the only way they can improve their DSR scores.

Burke must go.

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Shock Me

Sat Jun 27 19:26:38 2009

''Most importantly, online retailers are branching out, trying to find ways to make THEIR brands stronger, and explore suitable sales channels other than eBay. ''

Gee, I wonder why they had to branch out? Could it be a bunch of morons decided they were going to mess with something that wasn't broke?

Now they've succeeded in breaking it, yet they continue to institute policies and changes that do nothing but make it harder to be successful.

I'm continually amazed at how these folks can continue to step in it, time after time.

The best is when July 1st comes and they take away the ''Free Shipping'' incentive that they tried to create. Why not leave it and actually give sellers SOME reason to feel optimistic that we're getting something from these guys.

But no, they are taking it away. Why would they ever want to give sellers any incentives. Oh wait, I'm sorry, we get 5 free listings every month!

WHoop de dam doo....

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Ebay's Slow Death

Sun Jun 28 03:10:15 2009

The internet world is indeed changing.

We have had a B&M antiques/collectibles store for about 25 years.  We've always looked items up on Ebay to help determine a price.  Tonight, we were looking up several things and weren't finding what we wanted on Ebay. I heard myself finally saying to my husband out of exasperation, ''Don't bother with Ebay, just use Google, and hit the 'Shopping' at the top of the page.''  

It has become easier to find what you are looking for on Google, than Ebay. Also, several times when we did an Ebay search first, and then a Google search, we ended back at an Ebay store. Sometimes search words tend not to work on Ebay directly, but show up through Google. Weird!  All we could conclude is that Ebay is not displaying all the store listings on their own site.  

Also, our B&M store's business is picking up again, after having been slow for years. People seem to want to touch things before they buy again.  Also, I think having to pay for shipping has finally hit home for Buyers. It isn't that they think Sellers are overcharging, but that it has become an extra expense Buyers don't want to have to pay.

Also, we are increasingly aware during searches on Ebay, how few items sell. Also, almost everything is BIN lately. Personally, I've about given up even trying to sell anything on Ebay. It is no longer worth the work or expense. I can't blame other people for not buying on Ebay, because I haven't bought anything there for over a year.  

Ebay has become a waste of time all the way around.  I guess Donahoe must be pleased with himself, because he is close to completing his mission of destroying Ebay for good.

Hopefully, Google will keep improving. And, we desperately need another viable auction site.

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: SK

Sun Jun 28 12:02:45 2009

My last Ebay Live was in 2003.

What a monumental waste of a weekend.  People running from booth to booth collecting pins and filling out cards for raffles.  Conferences and lectures geared to newbies and wannabes.  Syrupy sales speeches by ebay royalty.

Not one opportunity to actually discuss anything.  They were not interested in what we thought.  We were like attendees at a scientology convention - our only purpose was to absorb their wisdom and empty our wallets.

As a powerseller, I got to visit the secret powerseller area - and the special free computer terminals - and the secret powerseller lectures.  One was how to cross-sell your ebay store.  My auction listing was used as an example to the class of ''how to do it right''.  Nice for them...worthless for me.

I met the owner of the software company that made the auction management system I used at the time.  He was interested in me....until he discovered I was already a client.  

It was a pointless ebay fan-fest run by dozens of arrogant ebay corporate celebs like some kind of bizarre ego orgy.  It was a religious revival meeting.  Meg's magical touch would bring you instant sales.  Amen!

You could not pay me to attend another of these.

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Sun Jun 28 13:44:16 2009

LMAO @ "fake eBay Live"!

Sounds like eBay just cherry picked the diehards to drink the Kool-Aid.

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless

Sun Jun 28 18:39:58 2009

Speaking of people who should jump INTO a shark - looks like former eBay corporate shill Jose Mallabo has landed a new job with LinkedIn.

http://www.prweekus.com/EBays-Mallabo-joins-LinkedIn/article/1
39111/

-------
MOUNTAIN
VIEW, CA: LinkedIn has hired Jose Mallabo, eBay's director of corporate communications, for a newly created communications position. Mallabo will serve as director of corporate communications and oversee the development of LinkedIn's PR strategies in non-European international markets like India, Canada, and Australia, according to Kay Luo, senior director of corporate communications at LinkedIn. Mallabo, who started on June 15, will also provide support to US and global corporate communications team. He reports to Luo.

This is the second high-profile departure from eBay recently. Wendy Sept, who headed consumer marketplace PR for eBay, joined SanDisk in May. Alan Marks, SVP of corporate communications at eBay, did not immediately respond to inquiries about replacements for either position.
----------

Wonder if Ms. Luo knows about her new hire's propensity for posting anonymously in Yahoo! Finance Forums and industry blogs. Seems like the SEC would want to know...

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Jun 29 02:23:30 2009

Those former qualities and characteristics that set ebay part from other online sales venues have been discussed at length here and don't bear repeating. Unfortunately for ebafia, however, is that their marketplace myopia is or perhaps already has destroyed a key niche.

The long range purpose of ebafia's objective to plunge headlong into the "secondary" or distressed/refurbished cheap Chinese freight market and their heavy handed "encouragement" of "free" shipping is to project superior value to consumers when sellers will be required to collect sales tax.

The last thing ebafia wants is for consumers to decide it has become cheaper to buy locally from brick and mortar stores.

Excluding the availability factor and very occasionally convenience, my criteria for deciding where to buy has always been whether the item's ebay price plus shipping charges exceeded the item cost and the local sales tax.

Ebafia will continue to push, cajole, and coerce sellers into lowering prices still more by any means necessary -- especially immediately before online sales tax collection becomes law.

While still a monopoly, the fact is that ebafia has lost its glamour and will eventually become a cheap junk venue while failing to recognize that other strategy of attracting and SUPPORTING sellers who sell items not readily available in the brick and mortar world is even more viable.

DEATH to ebay corp. in 2009.

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Synonymous

Mon Jun 29 10:00:23 2009

Several posts by longtime merchants in this thread provide good supporting testimony for this article and a closer, informative look into the problems with eBay-sponsored conferences compared to similar events and the current tough market on eBay.

They are, in short, far more useful and convincing that the career trolls who contribute nothing but grade-school namecalling like "ebay=penny stock" and "ebafia" and, by representing those who object to eBay's current direction as immature, obsessed, and devoid of any worthwhile argument, do their cause far more harm than good.  (By the way, has "ebay=penny stock" *ever* made a useful contribution to this site?  Every single story at which I look, he or she takes the first or second post with some nonsensical troll message.  Why hasn't this user been banned by now?)

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Usher me out of Ebay.

Mon Jun 29 11:22:11 2009

Hi Ebay employee/troll:
Ebay will be a penny stock very soon. They have admitted free shipping is a fraud, and it will be very interesting to see how many still offer it after 6/30. Ebay is morally bankrupt. Ebay allows sellers who are Ebay employees like all.business to offer over 1000 listings with banned verbiage like "Checks, Money Orders, Cash accepted". Ebay allows bad sellers like drop shipper Buy & Shoplet with hundreds and hundreds of negatives & neutrals to stay while destroying good sellers thru worst match. In 1 year, Ebay has gone from top of the pile to a far distant second in terms of sales. And more garbage on the horizon. Ebay used to be a fair level playing field, now it's the first stop of crooks the world over. Ebay is the laughing stock of Ecommerce.
How could one guy do so much damage in a year? Ebay had it all, and now it's a leper colony. Then they send trolls over to knock blog posters. I agree it's wrong to call Ebay Ebafia. I don't think even the mafia would stoop as low to steal a penny from one of their victims, but Ebay would, then charge you back for the chance to rob you. If goobers like you are the best they can field as a cheerleader, it's really over. Ebay's #1 cheerliar here, Ebay pays my bills, has been silenced after his lies were discredited. We all know who you are dude.

Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?   Have eBay Conferences Jumped the Shark?

by: Truthisstrangerthanfiction

Mon Jun 29 11:41:59 2009

Ina & David, please put Wall Street and all financial reporters, mags etc on YOUR mailing list and bombard them with this unbelievable eBay stupidity. DO INCLUDE ALL THESE COMMENTS COlUMNS.Can the outside business world" even imagine any of this? Might get eBay stock down to 99c.

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